Thursday, April 8, 2021

Keeping an eye on dirt

fall salmon river anglersThere are a lot of rivers, streams and lakes to visit. For casual observers, it’s sometimes hard to tell how natural they are. Last year, I spent some time digging into all the ways that dams along the Saranac River change the flow of water and the life of fish.

But dams change something else, too: dirt.

Dams hold back and can suddenly release dirt, or they change the way water flows and those changes, in turn, change how sand and gravel build up both before and after dams’ spot in the river. Whole books, including the classic textbook Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology, have been written on these changes to dirt accumulation, usually known by the more technical word “sediment.”

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Winter Fish Kills 

winter fish killsNew Yorkers may be seeing more dead fish in the water this spring than in past years. The winter of 2020-2021 created optimal conditions for winterkills, which usually occur in shallow waterbodies with aquatic plant growth.

Winterkill occurs when snow that accumulates on the ice reduces the amount of light penetrating through the water, inhibiting the photosynthesis cycle in plants and reducing the amount of oxygen (a byproduct of the cycle) available to fish and other organisms. The problem is exacerbated when fish die, as the decomposition process also consumes any available oxygen in the pond.

To report a fish kill contact your Regional DEC Fisheries Office.


Monday, April 5, 2021

Reuse & Repair: Creating New Jobs and Enterprises through Zero Waste

This Wednesday on April 7th, from 2pm to 3:30 pm the Zero Waste Committee of Warren County, NY will be hosting a Zero Waste Webinar with a focus on local economic growth through reuse and repair enterprise programs. The program is entitled: “Creating new jobs and enterprises through Zero Waste”, with the committee being a project of the Clean Air Action Network (CAAN) of Glens Falls.

The webinar will feature four of the country’s most respected leaders in the field of reuse and repair:

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

$650,000 in grant funding available for dam repairs

Floating islands going over Higley Dam, c. 1943Funding Available to Local Government and Non-Profit Owners of ‘High Hazard’ Dams for Pre-Construction Activities
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced $650,000 in grant funding is now available to assist eligible dam owners with infrastructure repair costs. Funding is provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) grant program. Of the dozens of states that applied to this federal program, New York was one of two states that received the maximum amount of funding. DEC is now accepting applications for grants to assist with technical, planning, design, and other pre-construction activities associated with the rehabilitation of eligible dams classified as High Hazard dams.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Eating for the Climate is Easy

Vegetarian dinnerFantastic Foods & Simple Solutions, in 3 Parts  

The climate crisis, by its very nature, is tough to wrap your head around. We can feel some of its immediate effects, but most of the most severe changes happen on a scale that is beyond the ability of one person to see. Many of the actions we can take as a society to mitigate those effects have proven challenging to do. More and more of us agree that collective, systemic action is needed to combat climate change. In addition to systemic action, it is important that individuals still do our part. It can be really tough to figure out what to do!

When faced with the enormity of the climate crisis, we often find ourselves asking: what can we do to help?

I’d like to present a very simple answer to that question.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 29, 2021

HPAG Report: The Visitor Experience

This is the third article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “Visitor Experience” section of the report.

HPAG’s recommendations will require a significant investment in state resources on an ongoing basis and additional staffing to improve the management of the HPWC by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). HPAG recommends a long-term, broad-based advisory group to help coordinate management reforms. Without greater funding, enhanced staffing, and a management committee to lead the process, many of the HPAG report ideas will rust.

The Visitor Experience section is a big part of the HPAG report. I count 35 separate recommendations, some that try to breathe new life into dormant actions from existing Unit Management Plans (UMPs), others that spotlight ideas that have been in the wind for a while, and others that try to introduce new and different management options.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 22, 2021

A New Day is Dawning on Lake George Protection

Lake GeorgeBy Walt Lender, Executive Director, Lake George Association and Eric Siy, Executive Director, The FUND for Lake George

The unprecedented threats imperiling the water quality of Lake George demanded a game-changing response. It came on March 9.

In a move that was both visionary in purpose and difference-making in action, the boards of the Lake George Association and The FUND for Lake George approved a merger that will create a single new preeminent and more powerful protector for the Queen of American Lakes.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Demystifying Wildlands Monitoring

Whitney WildernessThe long promised public unveiling of the Wildlands Monitoring Guidance by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), once again, did not occur. It was planned for the March APA Board meeting and was pulled from the agenda during that two-day meeting. What is so secret about it? Nothing, actually. So, why the repeated lack of transparency over multiple years?

It appears that APA and DEC administrators are not understanding that Wildlands Monitoring is a planning and management process and framework – it is NOT a final plan, so it will never be “finished for presentation.” A report would start a process. Or maybe the implied accountability of using monitoring is daunting to administrators? Let’s explore these issues.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Native Plant Sale and Community Gardens to benefit Adirondack Pollinators

pollinator plant saleAdkAction’s Adirondack Pollinator Project, in partnership with Lake Placid Land Conservancy, The Wild Center, and Paul Smith’s College is delighted to announce the start of its fourth annual Pollinator-Friendly Native Plant Sale, and the opening of applications for this year’s Community Pollinator Garden Assistance Program.

Pollinators sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce, but are facing many threats, including habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, and disease. The Adirondack Pollinator Project envisions a future where pollinators thrive, native habitat abounds, and residents and visitors are engaged pollinator advocates. Both the plant sale and garden assistance program work to increase native habitat that will help rebuild the monarch butterfly population, attract hummingbirds, and strengthen native bee and moth populations.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 8, 2021

Elk Lake: The First Adirondack Conservation Easement

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website reveals that 777,206 acres of private land in the Adirondack Park are protected by a state-owned conservation easement.  During the Adirondack Park Centennial year of 1992 there were 93,000 acres of private lands under state-owned easement in the Park.

That number jumped to 250,000 acres early in this century as the former pulp and paper companies in the Park, such as International Paper, Champion International and Domtar, all negotiated easements under the state’s program. Lyme Timber acquired many of these eased holdings in the 21st century and is now the largest private forest landowner in the Park.

The Finch, Pruyn Company also sold just under 100,000 acres of private lands under conservation easement in 2007  (plus about 60,000-acres that has become Forest Preserve). The acreage under easement has steadily grown since then. And that doesn’t even count all of the private easements negotiated and acquired by groups such as the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Land Trust, Lake Placid Land Conservancy, Champlain Area Trails, and others.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 1, 2021

Farm micro-grants available up to $1,500

Soil Health on Market Farms workshopThe Adirondack Council’s Essex Farm Institute (EFI) will offer grants of up to $1,500 per applicant for projects that are both environmentally beneficial and sustainable. They will be seeking applicants starting today for their 2021 micro-grant cycle until the end of the month. 

To date, the micro-grant program has awarded over $129,000 in the support of over 85 projects since the programs conception in 2016, with 13 farms being awarded grants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 1, 2021

The Lake Placid Land Conservatory Gains National Recognition

In a recent press release, the Lake Placid Land Conservancy (LPLC) has revealed that it has been awarded accredited status by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission- a significant achievement in the field of land conservation. The Land Trust Accrediation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, granted the accreditation after an in-depth review of the LPCA’s programs, activities and policies. The seal of accreditation represents a commitment to meeting national standards of quality for the permanent protection of important natural places throughout the Adirondacks.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Snow Jobs: The white stuff makes for good growing

Where agriculture is concerned, dairy is king (or is dairy queen?) in northern NY State. Looking out the window now in late February, though, it looks like we should be growing snow peas or iceberg lettuce. Actually, for farmers, maple producers, foresters and gardeners, there is an up-side to having plenty of winter white stuff.

Snow has been called “the poor person’s fertilizer” because it’s a source of trace elements and more importantly, of plant-available forms of nitrogen, a nutrient often in short supply. When snowmelt releases a whole winter’s worth (i.e., almost six months) of nutrients in a short time, the nitrogen value can add up.

Since air is 78% nitrogen, you’d think plants would have all they needed. But atmospheric nitrogen, N2, is a very stable, inert molecule that plants are unable to use – you might say that for plants, nitrogen gas is broken. Fortunately, some soil bacteria can “fix” gaseous nitrogen, converting it to water-soluble forms that plants can slurp up. Lightning also turns nitrogen gas into plant “food.” But this only accounts for a small percentage of the nitrogen found in snow.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Money for Lake Champlain water quality projects

lake champlain bridgeRecently, I wrote about the Adirondack Council asking the state to fund a wide-ranging study of water quality across the Adirondacks. (Speaking of the Council, it just hired someone away from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to be its new vice president for conservation.)

I’ve been thinking about how much the public conversation is influenced by money — not just advertising and p.r., but money or lack of money for research.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Now Hiring Boat Stewards for 2021 Season

boat stewardsNew York State’s Watercraft Inspection Steward Programs are now recruiting boat stewards for the 2021 season. If you like working outdoors, interacting with the public, and want to help protect New York’s waters from aquatic invasive species, please check out the SLELO PRISM (St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) website for a list of positions across the state.

Photo: Boat stewards assist the public with checking their watercraft for aquatic invasive species. They also provide education and at some locations, free boat washes. (Photo by Adirondack Watershed Institute, Paul Smith’s College)